With a url such as “readthebestwriting.com,” Ascent offers up some high expectations. While I’m not certain how to qualify any writing as “the best,” there is no argument that Ascent really does publish quality writing.
B.J. Best’s poem “catchy door and sticky drawer” is imaginative, full of descriptions that perfectly describe everyday domestic items. It begins:
in our house lives a god
of domestic things: the scorched end
of the spatula, the basement door so pregnant
with humidity it no longer shuts.
But it’s also insightful:
sometimes at night she would sing:
it’s better to have had your wish
than to have wished you had. my grandfather
watched clouds. he said:
catchy door and sticky drawer,
coming rain will pour and pour.
The most recent essay, “At the Root of It” by Heather Corrigan, takes the reader to Abu Dhabi where the narrator is in some serious need of dental work but is scared to go to anyone close, fearing the doctor won’t have any Novocain. In traveling by plane to a “better” doctor, she learns about herself, and the reader with her, about how she is silly to think that she is resilient from the accidents and tragedies around her:
It is not pretty, this yellowish stained behemoth of a tooth, but I’ve grown fond of it. Occasionally I feel the mildest rustle—it is more like the ghost of a toothache than a toothache—at the base of my jaw, something my dentist referred to as a kind of phantom limb pain, the body’s muscle memory of something no longer there. I like to think that it is less a memory than a reminder: a reminder of my courage, shame, and most of all, the futility in believing that anything can last forever.
Jessica Treadway’s fiction piece about a woman coming to terms with why her husband left her all those years ago is breathtaking. Jean, still angry, receives a call on her birthday from her ex-husband’s second wife, requesting that Jean come visit her on her deathbed. Against her own wishes, Jean accompanies her daughter to Florida only to discover the real reason she is so mad:
When, and how, had she stopped being the kind of person who cried to see people waving at trains? She did not know, except that with her hands closed hot around the old ticket stubs, she understood for the first time that it had been before Walter left, and not after. Not because he left. Months after this visit, she would be able to admit to herself that it was why. He missed, too much, the woman he’d married.
Because it is updated regularly, there is unfortunately no telling when new content will be up, but I can say that what's up there right now is well worth the read.